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Texas Assault Defenses

If you are charged with assault in Texas, the first thing you will want to do is hire a criminal defense attorney. You and your attorney will then want to review the facts of your case to determine a defense strategy.

Texas Assault Laws

In general, assault in Texas is defined as performing an intentional act that gives another cause to think you are about to cause physical harm. Whether you actually do cause physical harm is beside the point. The mere move or threat to cause physical harm is enough to warrant assault charges in most cases.

For example, waving a knife at someone or threatening someone with your fists are both examples of assault. It is important that the victim in such crimes is aware that the assault is taking place. For example, if you point a gun at someone from a distance without his or her knowledge, this technically is not assault. However, if you point a gun at someone who is aware of it, then you have committed assault, regardless of whether the gun was loaded.

Under Texas assault law, there are three ways you can be charged with assault. They are:

  • Threatening someone with imminent bodily injury
  • Intentionally causing bodily injury
  • Intentionally causing physical contact when the person knows such contact will be considered offensive

As you can see, there is a broad range of actions that can warrant Texas assault charges. Causing physical harm, threatening physical harm, and making contact that implies a threat can all get you in trouble.

Penalties for Assault in Texas

Simple assault, which Texas assault law defines as assault that causes minor injury, is a Class A misdemeanor in Texas. A misdemeanor is considered to be a minor crime. In Texas, simple assault is punishable by up to a year in a county jail and a fine of up to $4,000.

If the assault is only a threat and there is no physical injury, it is a Class C misdemeanor in Texas, which is punishable by a fine of up to $500.

In some cases, prosecutors may try to bump a simple assault charge up to a third-degree felony. A felony in Texas, and in general, is a more serious violation. A third-degree felony Texas assault charge is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $10,000.

You may be charged with a third-degree felony if:

  • You have a previous domestic violence conviction and you commit assault against a family member or someone you are romantically involved with
  • You assault someone you know is a public servant or government contractor
  • You assault an emergency worker or security guard while they are doing their job
  • If a weapon is used during the course of the assault or if serious injury occurs, then you may be charged with aggravated assault, which is a second-degree felony in Texas. A second-degree felony is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

    Assault Defenses

    In general, there are two categories of defenses against assault charges. The first is to attempt to dispute the evidence presented by the prosecution. This type of defense will rely on the facts of your case and your ability to refute the evidence, including witness testimony.

    The other type of defense, and the one most choose to rely on in assault cases, is known as an affirmative defense in Texas. This means that you do admit to committing the actions alleged by the prosecution. However, you present evidence to back up a claim that your actions were legally justified.

    One type of actionable defense used in assault cases is self-defense. Self-defense is the act of using force or threatening force to defend oneself or another person who is in danger of being imminently harmed by someone else.

    For the self-defense claim to work in Texas, you must have had a justified reason for using force. If you provoked the other person into acting, a self-defense claim will not work.

    Furthermore, Texas law allows someone to use force to protect ones property. However, the extent of the force must be in proportion to the danger that the other person poses. For example, if someone is trespassing on your property, you will likely not be able to justify the use of deadly force.

    Discussions with Your Lawyer

    Deciding what type of defense to use in a Texas assault case is something you and your lawyer should discuss. Be sure to ask your lawyer about what defenses are available to you in light of the facts of your case.

    In addition, even if you are guilty of committing assault, your lawyer may be able to talk down your charges in order to seek a reduced sentence.